UCL Urban Laboratory


Developmental Circuits


global network

The successful mobilization of an urban agenda in international development policy, notably through bringing an urban focus to multilateral and official development aid organizations, has led to significant scaling up of investment in improving urban governance and infrastructure. Urban Masterplanning has been an important foundation for investments in urban infrastructure and large-scale developments. The UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Habitat III process have consolidated and strengthened policy-driven analyses of urbanization and instituted a new orthodoxy of urban development and governance. Many different international organizations are working to activate this approach in poorer cities around the world. The international policy drivers of urbanization across Africa have therefore been significantly intensified, inspired by a humanitarian impulse to “leave no city behind”. A major actor in urban development planning has been the Japanese International Co-operation Agency (JICA), which is the focus of our initial phase of research.

JICA - How Japan is contributing to Making Africa Urban

Master plans are making a comeback in Africa. Sometimes these plans translate into entirely new master planned cities, such as Tatu or Kilamba City in the outskirts of Nairobi or Luanda. These plans also translate into...continue

The Politics of Urban Masterplanning in Tanzania

As in many other African countries, master plans have been used as an ideal planning approach in shaping and managing the growth of cities in Tanzania since early colonial times. But even after the end of colonialism in 1961, a master plan approach...continue

Can global development finance make Accra resilient?

Temporary or continuous flooding has been an annual phenomenon in Accra, Ghana’s populous city and the country’s nerve-centre since the early 1930s. Perhaps the worst flood in Accra’s history was that of June 3rd 2015...continue

Understanding the fractured workings of urban development finance in Africa by Sylvia Croese

From the 2000s onwards, there has been a resurgence of large-scale infrastructure-led development in Africa, particularly in and between the continent’s urban centers. In this context of large-scale urban investments...continue